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The Self-Portrait: A Cultural History [Kindle Edition]

James Hall
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

Print List Price: £24.95
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Book Description

In this highly illustrated survey, art historian and critic James Hall brilliantly maps the history of self-portraiture, from the earliest myths of Narcissus to the prolific self-image-making of contemporary artists.
This intelligent and vivid account shows how artists' depictions of themselves have been part of a continuing tradition that reaches back for centuries. It reveals the importance of the medieval 'mirror craze'; the explosion of the genre during the Renaissance; the confessional self-portraits of Titian and Michelangelo; the role of biography for serial self-portraitists such as Courbet and van Gogh; themes of sex and genius in works by Munch, Bonnard and Modersohn-Becker; and the latest developments of the genre in the era of globalization.
'There is never a dull passage in this book: the detail is crisply imparted; the content richly arcane at times, but more usually profoundly human; the ideas come freshly coined.' - The Guardian

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Lively ... Hall's range of reference is polymathic and his writing often pithy. --The Daily Telegraph

Enthralling. --The Observer

A cultural map ... There is never a dull passage in this book: the detail is crisply imparted; the content richly arcane at times, but more usually profoundly human; the ideas come freshly coined. Hall manages to retain the intellectual high ground while writing with verve and enthusiasm. It is a creditable achievement, and, like all the best gifts, comes beautifully wrapped, in book production of the highest quality. --Francis Spalding, The Guardian

From the self-aggrandising to the self-mocking, from the solemn to the saucily teasing, a survey of self-portraiture in all its many manifestations emerges. ... This is a wide-ranging, richly researched and evocatively illustrated book ... The Self-Portrait has a wonderfully fresh feel. It is as varied, revelatory and idiosyncratic as the genre it takes as its subject. --The Times

A stimulating and demanding book that requires an equally serious engagement from any reader ... There's no questioning the scholarship that lies behind this book. --The Spectator

Fascinating, erudite and beautifully produced ... elegant. --The Sunday Times

Hall's boundless curiosity explodes in all directions from the relatively few pages he has been allocated. Mostly we want more: more detail, more explanation and many more pictures. Given that this is a chunky and well-illustrated volume, that is meant as high praise. --Andrew Marr, The New Statesman

Hall's writing is not only accessible for a general audience, but filled with notable insights, including spicy, prurient ones. --The Daily Beast

A graceful, sure-footed exposition, both authoritative and entertaining, of a long thread in cultural history ... I was hooked. --Carcassone

James Hall has all the gifts a great art historian should have: hawk's-eye vision, which sees every detail sharply without ever losing awareness of vast contexts; a vivid talent for description; a disciplined imagination; encyclopaedic knowledge; and a mind that is critical, constructive, and creative all at once. --Felipe Fernández-Armesto, The Art Newspaper

a textured biography of the genre, where familiar works cohabit easily with esoteric ones, veined by richly-detailed, penetrating observations. --Sunday Business Post, Brendan Daly

Exceptionally rich in detail. --The Good Book Guide

Detailed and informative ... a serious and scholarly work that nevertheless retains the reader's interest and attention and is generously and thoughtfully illustrated. --Art Book Review

Stimulating ... Hall writes with energetic freshness ... Hall's expositions of individual works are constantly perceptive ... Three of the most permanently valuable and inspiring books on art ... are Kenneth Clark's The Nude, Landscape into Art and The Gothic Revival. Hall honourably revives this tradition of scholarly elucidation in a highly engaged book that raises many questions about this intriguing and still-active genre. It deserves to be widely read. --The Literary Review

Spirited ... a well-crafted and refreshing appraisal ... Like the disarming image of Michelangelo's flayed skin, this book is unexpected in its wealth of interpretations ... The book's readability and the depth of research give it an engaging pace that makes it especially refreshing. --The Art Newspaper

Beautifully designed ... (Hall) delivers original and engaging interpretations. --RA Magazine

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 23313 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Thames and Hudson Ltd; 1 edition (14 April 2014)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #480,062 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Art history for the discerning reader. 25 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A very illuminating work on the history of the self portrait, with some unexpected information about the origins of the genre.
A well written and scholarly book, with some beautiful illustrations.Altogether well worth reading and keeping for future reference.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Frustrating 1 May 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If reference was made to where each illustration is, this book would be much less frustrating to read. There is no list of illustrations either so you can hunt and hunt before discovering the art work you're reading about isn't illuatrated in the book. I also find the speculation annoying. If we have no way of knowing what an artist 'must have seen', better not mention it?

All this is a great shame because there fascinating information here and a great deal to enjoy.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Self-Portraits in the context of their time 7 July 2014
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This is an interesting history of the Self-Portrait, which covers not only paintings, etchings and drawing, but also sculpture and pottery (Gauguin made a number of self-portraits in pottery.) It is a scholarly book with a great deal on the literary sources which have inspired (or may have inspired) the work of self-portraitists, and sometimes we have very long passages about such background and about aspects of the lives of the artists before we get to the discussion of actual self-portraits. The interpretations of the latter are always interesting, even when they sometimes struck me as personal and possibly far-fetched on occasions. The last chapter, on Modern and Contemporary Self-Portraits shows (in my opinion, for Hall does not make any value judgments) just how gimmicky, pretentious and plain rubbishy a lot of contemporary art is.

Finding self-portraits fascinating, I enjoyed the book, though I found Laura Cummins’ “A Face to the World” more rewarding - see my Amazon review.
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Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Erudite, readable and beautifully put together study, a must for art students or anyone interested in the self portrait.
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